Department of Philosophy

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The Department of Philosophy is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and offers both a Major and a Minor in Philosophy.

The Department counts 21 full-time faculty members working in a variety of specialties, who are active scholars committed to undergraduate education. They share their expertise in a wide variety of philosophical schools, national traditions, historical periods, and specialized areas of philosophical work.

The curriculum is designed to provide students with a foundation in the history of philosophy and also to encourage students to pursue work in their own areas of interest. Formal coursework is only one part of the Philosophy student's education. Since inquiry and study are most fruitful when conducted in a vital community of fellow scholars, the Department is committed to offering a number of excellent learning opportunities that go beyond traditional classroom structures.

2021 Dewey J. Hoitenga Philosophy Essay Contest

Philosopher photos

Questions? Contact Professor Spear:


The Department of Philosophy invites you to submit your entry to the 2021 Dewey J. Hoitenga Philosophy Essay Contest. The winning paper will receive both recognition and a prize. Papers on any philosophical topic and from any student enrolled at GVSU are welcome. Submit one copy of your paper to Professor Spear (MAK B-3 213 / by Noon on Friday April 16, 2021. Papers must be unpublished, at least 10 pages (double spaced, 12-point font), and may not have been submitted to previous philosophy department essay contests. Please have your paper ready for “blind review,” that is, do not write your name on it (attach a separate sheet with your name, email address, and the paper’s title, and remember to write your title at the top of your paper as well).




Ethics, Practical Reasoning, Agency: Sellars' Practical Philosophy

August 12-13, 2021

Grand Valley State University PEW Campus

Keynotes/Invited Speakers:

Allan Gibbard (Emeritus, University of Michigan)

Danielle Macbeth (Haverford College)

Willem A. DeVries (University of New Hampshire)

James R. O’Shea (University College, Dublin)







Confirmed Speakers:

Stefanie Dach (University of West Bohemia, Pilsen).

Kyle Ferguson (New York University)

Zachary Gabor (Harvard University)

Jeremy R. Koons (Georgetown University Qatar)

Ronald Loeffler (Grand Valley State University)

Preston Stovall (University of Hradec Králové)

Nicholas Tebben, (Towson University)

Heath White (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)




w. Sellars' Pic

. . . the fundamental principles of a community, which define what is ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘done’ or ‘not done’ are the most general common intentions of that community with respect to the behavior of members of the group.

Wilfrid Sellars, Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man